As a Mac owner, you must be familiar with the most common Mac shortcuts like Command-A (select all), Command-C (copy), and Command-V (paste). However, there are other essential Mac keyboard shortcuts that can immensely improve your productivity.
By putting these shortcuts into practice, you can work faster and smarter and get more work done with ease compared to using a mouse or touchpad.
On a Mac, there are a number of keyboard shortcuts, and it can be difficult to remember them all. So, you may want to jot them down on a handy sticky note to use as a cheat sheet. The more you use them, the more you familiarize yourself with them. Soon enough, you’ll be a Mac super-user, boasting speed and accuracy.
How Do You Use Shortcuts on a Mac?
Knowing these keyboard shortcuts will make your Mac experience more convenient. Apart from typing faster, you’ll browser better and quickly access other functionalities. To find Mac shortcuts that are already set up by default on your device, go to System > Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts.
You’ll see the various keyboard shortcuts that are set for your keyboard, launchpad, dock, Spotlight, Mission Control, and so on. You have the option to customize an existing shortcut. To do so, select the shortcut you want to change, click on the key combination, and type the new keys you wish to use.
To create a new keyboard shortcut, go to App shortcuts and click on the + (plus) sign. Select the app you want (or all applications), type in the menu title and the keys you wish to use, and click on Add. Keep in mind that for the shortcut to work, you must type it in the exact syntax as the menu title.
What Are Some Cool Keyboard Shortcuts on a Mac?
Ready to learn some useful tips for your Mac keyboard? Let's get started.
Open the Spotlight Search Tool: Command + Space bar
The ⌘+Space bar key combination is one of the most useful shortcuts on a Mac. Anytime you want to find a file on your Mac, simply use this shortcut and type the name of the file you’re looking for into the prompt that appears. Spotlight will search through the system to find your file.
This shortcut also offers a quick way to find and open an app you don’t keep on your dock.
Define a Word: Command + Control + D
Your Mac makes it easy to define words on documents or web pages. Simply tap the ⌘ + Control + D keyboard shortcut after highlighting the word you want to define.
Quit an Open Program: Command + Q
⌘+Q lets you instantly quit an open program. It doesn't just minimize the program, as sometimes happens when you click on the red “X” button at the top of an app. It completely shuts it down.
Compose an Email: Command + Shift + I
Normally, to compose an email, you must open the email app or go to your browser to access the app. However, the ⌘ + Shift + I keyboard shortcut opens the Mail compose page on Mail for Mac, where you can start creating your message right away.
Minimize All Screens: Command + Option + M
Sometimes, you may have too many windows open, to the extent that they interfere with your work. Luckily, you can minimize all of them at once using the Mac shortcut ⌘ + Option + M.
Every now and then, you’ll need to take screenshots or screen recordings for work or to post on social media. There are several shortcuts to facilitate that:
- ⌘+Shift+3: This shortcut takes a screenshot of the entire window – that is, anything you're seeing on your Mac’s screen will appear on the screenshot.
- ⌘+Shift+4: This shortcut lets you screenshot a specific spot on your Mac’s screen with the help of a cropping tool.
- ⌘+Shift+5: This shortcut displays the screenshot tools, including options for capturing the entire screen, a specific window, or a specific portion of the screen. It also lets you record the entire screen or a section of it and choose where to save the video file or image.
Peek at Your Desktop: Command + F3
When you have several windows open and need to quickly access an image or file on your desktop, you don’t have to minimize them. Simply use the ⌘ + F3 shortcut to reveal only the desktop.
Cycle Open Applications: Command + Shift + Tab
If you have multiple applications running simultaneously and want to easily access them without using the touchpad, use the Mac keyboard command ⌘ + Shift + Tab. It cycles through them all, granting you easy access.
Quickly Switch Between Active Applications: Command + Tab
Holding down ⌘ and then tapping on the Tab key launches the App Switcher. You can then switch between all the active applications by tapping on the Tab key until you get to the app you want.
Quickly Switch Between Different Windows in an App: Command + ~
Tapping the ⌘+~ keyboard shortcut lets you switch from one page to another of the same app. This is handy, especially when you are working on a Mac with a small screen and the split-view interface feels too cramped.
Quickly Close a Safari Window: Command + W
When you are using Safari and want to close just the current window you are in instead of the entire app, simply hit the ⌘ + W shortcut.
Make Precise Volume Adjustments: Option + Shift + Volume Up or Down
Sometimes, when listening to music on your Mac, you may want to adjust the volume to a specific level. The Option + Shift + F11 or F12 shortcut lets you get it to the specific level you want.
Force Quit a Problematic App: Command + Option + Esc
Have you ever been in a situation where the application you have been using suddenly freezes and stops functioning? Annoying, right? Well, the ⌘ + Option + Esc keyboard shortcut closes the problematic application.
It's more like the Ctrl + Alt + Delete keyboard shortcut on a PC. But, instead of the Task Manager, you’ll get a pop-up that lets you force quit non-responsive apps.
Hide Apps Instantly: Command + H
The ⌘ + H Mac keyboard shortcut allows you to quickly hide the app that you are using. Say you’re in the office doing online shopping when suddenly your boss walks in. When you hit these keys, the active window vanishes instantly.
To continue using the app again, click on the app’s icon on the App Switcher of the dock. If you have multiple windows or apps open, hold down the ⌘ + Option combination and click on any visible part of your desktop. This hides everything on your desktop.
Alternatively, if you’d rather minimize an active window, simply press the ⌘ + M shortcut. However, its preview will still be visible on the right side of your dock.
Instantly Lock Your Mac: Command + Control + Q
If you want to take a small break from your computer but want to leave the active windows open, you can simply lock your Mac using ⌘ + Control + Q. It’s way faster than doing so via the menu bar.
Minimize Your Screens in Slow-Mo: Shift + Minimize Window
You see a lot of people doing slow-mo on Tik Tok nowadays. Why not bring it to your Mac? Just hold down Shift and then minimize your screen using the yellow button. It's fun and something to show off to friends and family.
Scroll to the Top or Bottom of a Page at Lighting Speed: Command + Up or Down
When navigating your system, you can scroll using your trackpad, the scroll bar on the left side of the screen, or the keyboard arrows. Using the shortcut ⌘ + Up or Down Arrow takes you to the top or bottom of the current page at super-fast speeds.
If you're on a web page, use the Function (Fn) key and the right or left arrow on your keyboard to jump to the bottom or top of the page respectively.
Working with Documents and Writing Papers on a Mac
Apart from the usual Command + C (copy), Command + V (paste), Command + X (cut), Command + A (select all), and Command + Shift + V (paste without formatting), there are plenty of Mac keyboard shortcuts to make formatting or editing your text a tad easier:
- Command + I: Italicize.
- Command + B: Make bold.
- Command + U: Underline.
- Control + K: Delete all the text between the cursor and the end of a paragraph or line.
- Option + Delete: Delete the word on the left of the cursor.
- Fn + Delete: Forward delete.
- Command + K: Add a hyperlink to your text.
- Command + Control + Space bar: Open the Character Viewer window to choose or type emojis.
- Command + Shift + colon (:): Open the Spelling and Grammar screen.
- Command + semicolon (;): Find misspelled words. When using Word, press Alt + F7 (the F keys must have been previously enabled as function keys via System Preferences > Keyboard for this to work).
- Command + F: Find specific words in your document.
- Command + Z: Undo a previous action.
- Command + Shift + Z: Redo a recently undone action.
- Command + Up/Down Arrows: Move the cursor to the top or bottom of your document.
- Command + S: Save your document.
- Command + O: Open a document you’ve saved on your Mac.
- Command + P: Print the selected document.
Finder is the default file manager on a Mac. It provides access to all your files and folders, displays windows, and even controls your interaction with your Mac. For this reason, it can be quite cluttered when trying to navigate around.
That’s where these shortcuts come in handy:
- Command + Shift + A: This shortcut quickly opens the Applications page of Finder.
- Command + Shift + U: This shortcut launches Utilities.
- Command + Shift + D: This shortcut takes you to the Desktop folder of Finder.
Shut Down Your Computer Fast: Control + Option + Command + Eject
What do you do when you’re in a rush and need to shut down your machine fast? Hit the Control + Option + Command + Eject key combination. Your Mac uses this complex key combination for good reason. You don’t want to accidentally shut down your Mac.
Once activated, you have less than a minute to save all your documents or programs before the machine shuts down. While your windows will reopen after logging back in, there’s no guarantee they will be intact. Therefore, be sure to save all your work before applying this command.
Instantly Access the Address Bar in Safari: Command + L
Save yourself some seconds of searching for the cursor using the ⌘+L shortcut. The cursor jumps to the address bar, where you can type your search query or an URL. This shortcut also applies to Google Chrome. Windows users use Ctrl + L.
Other cool Safari keyboard shortcuts are as follows:
- Command + T: Open a new tab.
- Command + Z: Undo the last action you performed.
- Command + Shift + T: Reopen the last closed tab.
- Command + Y: Open or close the History window.
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